CARSON CITY -- Republican attorney general candidate Travis Barrick made no apology Friday for his 1989 arrest at a San Diego area abortion clinic and said people are alive today because of the Operation Rescue protest.
"I exercised my rights. There are women out there who changed their minds (about having abortions)," Barrick said. "There are 20-year-old kids out there because of it. Our protest had that effect."
His opponent, Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, began running TV advertisements Thursday that point out Barrick "served jail time in Southern California for harassing women."
Barrick was one of seven anti-abortion protesters arrested on July 3, 1989, for blockading the Family Planning Medical Group in La Mesa. A jury convicted them that September on misdemeanor trespassing and resisting arrest charges. He spent 45 days in jail, rather than pay a fine.
Barrick said he went to the same judge years later and had his records sealed. But his name and information about the arrests were included in news stories in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
"I felt I didn't have to tell anyone," Barrick said. "But I knew if they found out they would take aim at me. What was I supposed to do, make it a race about abortion?"
Masto campaign spokesman Erin Bilbray said the attorney general would have no comment on Barrick's response to her ad. "His actions speak for themselves," he said. "There is a reason why he was arrested and spent 45 days in jail."
Despite his anti-abortion views, Barrick said as a lawyer and if he became attorney general he has "a duty" to enforce all laws of Nevada and the United States, including Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing abortion. Nevada voters adopted that decision in a referendum in 1990.
Barrick said he "never harassed any women" and that the trial was a sham. He said the judge would not let the Operation Rescue protesters mention words like the Bible and Jesus, and treated the case simply as a trespassing matter.
Barrick also said police "roughed me up."
He contended the clinic they blockaded was notorious for performing late-term abortions and they had a tape of a phone call saying that a 14-year-old girl was getting an abortion, without knowledge of her parents and 22-year-old boyfriend. Because of the boyfriend's age, he should have been charged with statutory rape, he added.
"It was the principle of the thing," Barrick said.
A Southern Nevada native, Barrick moved to Southern California as a young man and became a carpenter and served as an evangelical minister. He became a lawyer in 2002 and moved back to Nevada in 2005.
Although not well known, Barrick trailed Masto by only 10 percentage points in a poll conducted for the Review-Journal in September.
But he had received only $1,400 in donations in the last reporting period in May. He declined to discuss whether his contributions had increased, but said he has started running radio advertisements.
His ads do not discuss the abortion clinic arrest, Barrick said
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